The University of Southern Mississippi is paying tuition and housing for some vaccinated students to encourage them to get the shot

  • The University of Southern Mississippi is giving students incentives to get vaccinated.
  • Vaccinated students will be randomly selected to win things like fall tuition and housing credits.
  • Mississippi has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates and is seeing a surge in COVID-19.

The University of Southern Mississippi will pay some students in tuition and housing costs if they get vaccinated, the school said in a statement Thursday.

The incentive program is intended to encourage students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the next 12 weeks, five vaccinated students will be randomly selected each week to receive rewards. The items students can win include Fall semester tuition, which costs $4,602; $2,000 in housing credits; and $1,000 in dining credits, among other things.

“The best way for our students to stay healthy, stay connected, and stay in class this fall is by getting a COVID-19 vaccine. I urge all of our students to do their part and get vaccinated for COVID-19 now, if they haven’t already done so,” Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, USM Vice President for Student Affairs, said in the announcement.

Read more: Don’t punish the vaccinated — make it harder to choose to be unvaccinated

Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates of any state, with only 34.5% of its residents fully vaccinated, according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention data compiled by the Mayo Clinic. Only Alabama has a smaller portion of its residents fully vaccinated.

Mississippi is also seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as the Delta variant spreads. Some intensive care units in the state are near capacity, the Clarion Ledger reported.

Some states have offered incentives to getting the vaccine, including vaccine lotteries in states like California and Ohio.

President Joe Biden called on states and local governments this week to pay people $100 to get inoculated.

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